Sunday, October 29, 2006


A clamor of condemnation has followed the singer Madonna's adoption of a year-old boy from Malawi, a nation in southeastern Africa. The Human Rights Consultative Committee has challenged the adoption in court, and some have claimed that Madonna is being given special treatment because of her celebrity and her financial generosity to the country through her charity, Raising Malawi, which is setting up an orphanage for 4,000 Malawian children and trying to raise $3 million to support AIDS orphans. Madonna insists that in adopting the boy she has done everything according to the law.

Two questions: Do you see any problem with the adoption being fast-tracked because of who Madonna is and because of her financial gifts to the country? And, in either case, does the media have any business delving into this sort of personal issue simply because the adoptive parent happens to be famous?

Send your thoughts to or post them here by clicking on "comments" below. Please include your name, your hometown and the name of the newspaper in which you read this column. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your column weekly as it appears in the London Free Press in Ontario. This week you asked an opinion on the speedy way the adoption was handled for Madonna.

While I realize that Madonna can and will change that little boy's life far beyond what any parent can imagine, I believe that money was behind the rapid adoption.

Within days Madonna had that child in England. Whether the father knew the consequences or not is not an issue. There just was not enough time allotted for a reasonable decision to be made.

On the other hand there is another child which I believe is 5 years old whose both parents died of Aids. Those parents wish was that the child go to her aunt and uncle who live in England as well. That aunt and uncle are experiencing so much red tape and it may be a year or more before the child can go to them.

How can one be done so quickly while the other is bogged down in regulations that should not come into play when it is a blood relative. There is certainly something not ethical in this case.

Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion.

Anonymous said...

What bothers me about the adoption is the boy's father is still alive. It seems he placed him in the orphanage when the child's mother passed away shortly after birth. It seems there is a question about the father's role in the proceeding.

So, is it right that Madonna and other stars be allowed to circumvent the law because of their status or financial contributions? No. This would mean the rich could traffic in human beings.

Should the media be involved? When someone is permitted to skirt the law they become fair game to the media.

Wendy Hagmaier
Fullerton, CA

Anonymous said...

I wish people would leave the celebs alone when they are trying to do the right thing. She is saving that child from a life of poverty and disease, and so what if her occupation fast-tracks her? It is that much sooner the child can be rescued!

Don't people have anything more important to do with their time?

A. J. Williams
Fullerton CA

Anonymous said...

This refers to the article on "Sound off: Madonna and child".

I question the challenge by the Human Rights Consultative Committee. Their only objection appears to be the fast track adoption procedures implemented. The committee has not objected to the child being adopted by Madonna. I believe the Government has acted in public interest; the presence of celebrities and the need to provide security and crowd control in a third world country is a huge drain on the local sewrvices for the other citizens. I am from India, and am acutely aware of how presence of celebrities disrupts normal life for the other citizens. The father has not objected to Madonna taking the child away, and the child will have a good life because of the intense scrutiny that is a part of the normal life of any celebrity anywhere in the world.

As far as the media delving into this business - well, it has become the norm, and is fed by the check-out stand periodicals that need headlines to sell their publications. For that matter, every publication - including the New York Times, Orange County Register etc., all resort to big headlines so as to be able to sell their newspapers. Scrutiny by newspapers is generally considered beneficial for the common man, as that is the only way their rights are protected.

By the way; the papers stress rights. When will they also stress that the rights are stand-alone; duties also go hand-in-hand, prime duty of every citizen being to ensure that rights of fellow citizens are not abridged.

Anonymous said...

I feel very sad about those who want to bash Madonna for her adoption of David. What is the big deal? She has the right to select the child she wants to bring into her home, like all of us! Stop the whinning!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i think it is crap i am doin a debat at school and i think it is wrong, dose any one anyone agree wirt me

Anonymous said...

i agree with her it is crap thoses poor kids, there taking them away from there home land there parent i know there trying to help but it is wrong